Today was an exciting day because the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters’ "Central-Cocoanut Supreme" was published in our local newspaper, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune! It turns out the newspaper editors read our blog entry posted on January 8, and decided to include it with other community members’ responses to the Herald-Tribune “Suncoast Supreme” challenge! Here is a link to the Herald-Tribune website, where there is not just a published version of the C-C Supreme, with a cartoon drawing to go with it, but also a picture of some of our Central-Cocoanut Scavenger Hunters!
I was happy to see our neighborkids' wisdom in print, but I did have some concerns about the ways the newspaper introduced us, so I submitted a Letter to the Editor to provide some clarification. I don't know whether this Letter to the Editor will be printed in the newspaper, but either way it seems worth posting here on the blog as well:
To the Editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
I am so glad to learn that the Herald-Tribune has been following the adventures of the Central-Cocoanut neighborhood scavenger hunters and chose to publish the “Central-Cocoanut Supreme” in Sunday’s paper. However, the introductory description of the scavenger hunters provided by the Herald-Tribune, and my role in relationship to the scavenger hunters, deserve some clarification.
Our Central-Cocoanut neighborhood scavenger hunters are neighbors on a quest to explore all the great things in our own neighborhood, and to discover how we might increase our sense of connection and belonging in this particular patch of Sarasota that we call home.
While there are several of us adults who are “honorary” scavenger hunters, the great majority of the scavenger hunters are neighborkids. We follow our neighborkids’ lead because kids are naturally inclined to make friends, tell stories, and be curious, playful and exuberant – the very qualities that make for gifted neighborhood changemakers, community leaders, and social innovators.
Neighborhood scavenger hunting is something we do together as neighbors because it’s fun, and we love it here, and we are explorers and inventors at heart. This is not a formal service program. It is not an “out-of-school-time initiative.” It is about being neighbors together, with intention and awareness.
The Herald-Tribune introduced me as a “children’s advocate and mental health professional.” I am so grateful for the education, training, and experience I have gained as a child psychologist and children’s advocate because it has shaped who I am, and it helps me to pay attention to and recognize the wisdom emerging on the block every day. However, when I am at home in my neighborhood, these are not the “hats I wear.” At home in Central-Cocoanut, I am not Dr. Pinto; I am Miss Allison -- a name bestowed on me by my fellow neighbors, which I have come to treasure.
The scavenger hunters are not “my” scavenger hunters as reported in the Herald-Tribune; rather, we all belong to one another, as fellow neighbors.
And before we know it, we might just turn this community upside down.